The pink hued walls of the Palazzo Avino are the result of a 12th century game of one-upmanship as affluent residents – involved in the flourishing maritime trade between Italy and the East – built grand palazzos to rival those in the wealthier, coastal town of Amalfi. Nowadays, sitting in the elevated town of Ravello with its vaulted hallways, flower-filled terraces and boundless views out across the Bay of Salerno, it still maintains a sense of superiority. This extends to its guests who share in a touch of smugness that they have opted for this quiet retreat over the summertime circus in the twisting seaside streets below.
The original Palazzo Sasso (as it was formerly known) was abandoned in 1758 and fell into ruin until the beginning of the 19th century when it was bought by the wealthy industrial Camera family who later turned it into a hotel. Some of its original rooms still remain, including the former chapel which now serves as a sumptuous entrance hall with marble geometric tiled floors.
Throughout its history the palazzo has welcomed its fair share of playwrights and novelists who took inspiration from Ravello’s cinematic landscape, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that it became a hideout for the Hollywood elite. Among its guests, actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini were famously remembered giggling over dinner in the hotel restaurant at the time of their scandalous affair.
Despite its celebrity credentials the fairy-tale styled building was once again deserted in 1978. Today, Palazzo Avino is run by its namesake sisters Attilia and Mariella Avino whose father restored and reopened the hotel in 1997. Each room features handmade Vietri tiles and furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, while marble pillars and gold adornments throughout capture the spirit of its Hollywood alumni. With just 33 rooms and 10 suites this grand hotel may be boutique in size and style, but it’s packed with five-star amenities including a spa, rooftop solarium, and a private beach club just a short, meandering drive down to the sea.
Dinner is served under the stars at the Lobster and Martini bar or at the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant Rossellini’s, where guests can sample the best of Italian haute cuisine – including grilled scallops, homemade ravioli and Versuvio apricot sorbet - against the backdrop of the sparkling Mediterranean. At 350 metres above the sea, it’s the perfect vantage point for some modern-day one-upmanship spotting your superyacht in the bay below.book now